In today’s age of social media, it is easy for fans to have a global voice. With more brands realizing the value of having a digital footprint building their online profiles on social media platforms, they are providing a transparent and open platform for followers to voice their experiences and for others to access them.
The traditional word-of-mouth has taken a digital turn which also means that people don’t wait for reviews and recommendations to come their way through family and friends; they just go online and search for it. Considering this scenario, it is now more important than ever to encourage and retain those who are happy with your brand and are promoting it, i.e. your brand ambassadors.
Let’s assume you know what kind of users are on your social media platforms so that you can identify the genuine brand ambassadors. Once you know who these are, it’s time to follow the 3-point strategy to retain brand ambassadors and their online loyalty.
Step 1 – Develop a social media interaction keymap
Sounds complicated, but what it basically means is to make a list of all the touch points where your brand ambassadors are interacting with you on social media platforms, kind of like the digital footprint they leave behind when visiting your social media platforms. What this is going to help you do is identify opportunities to either wow or disappoint your brand ambassadors. A great way to identify these touch points is to use analytic tools to understand the journey your customer takes once they land on your page and the different directions their interactions can lead them.
Some of the interactions you can see on popular social media platforms are likes, shares, tagging, check-ins, comments, mentioning your brand in personal comments, activities participation, downloading your content, favourites and so on. However, not all interactions need to be responded to. Which brings us to our next step.
Step 2 – Understand your brand ambassadors
Before you decide what kind of a response you should give your audience, it is important to understand who they are and why they got to a level where you consider them brand ambassadors. You have obviously been doing something right to get to stage where you have people advocating your brand online. But within this group, you may have gained ambassadors for different reasons and when trying to give them that extra attention in order to retain them, you will have to respond to different demographics accordingly.
An interesting and pertinent study done by J.D.Power & Associates and NetBase via eMarketer shows that there is a variety of expectations users have from brands online and the line between whether or not it is appropriate to respond is constantly shifting. While they don’t want you to go all big brother on them, they don’t want you to be the missing in action dad either. Have a look at the figures below; they clearly show that based on their age groups, their opinions drastically differ and focusing on when to respond to followers online is just as important as how you respond to them.
The stereotype of traditional user types is constantly challenged on social media which means the pool of users you will see on your platforms will be drastically different, each requiring different treatments. While you can’t please everybody, it is important to do an analysis of the majority of users coming your way so that you can have an appropriate output to their actions.
Step 3 – Devise a response management strategy
As a brand you need to decide what is an appropriate response to the interactions you see on your social media platforms.
There are essentially three responses you can categories the interactions in:
- Don’t Acknowledged: Every time a brand ambassador likes your page doesn’t mean you have to respond and appreciate them doing so. It’s unnecessary, time consuming and frustrating for all involved.
- Acknowledge and Respond: When a brand ambassador leaves a comment on your post or on new products you launch, asks a question and so on, do respond. These brand ambassadors are on your social media pages voluntarily spending their time to help build your brand, make sure you take the time out to respond accordingly.
- Acknowledge and Reward: Certain types of actions your brand ambassadors take will be extremely valuable to your brand and your aim should be to make sure they become recurring actions. For instance if a brand ambassador participates in an online contest and has regularly been doing so despite not winning the goodies, take time out to acknowledge their interest and even reward them for their consistent participation.
Remember, with the acknowledging and rewarding process it’s important that you remain genuine and humble. You’re rewarding their loyalty, not bribing them to continue getting the royal treatment.
Also, at the end of the day, don’t forget that there is a real person at the other end of that click. It is good to go out of your way sometimes and it’s not always necessary to respond to the activity of brand ambassadors on the platform they connect with you. If someone leaves a comment on your Facebook page that requires a longer response, write them an email to thank them for their contribution. This kind of special thought and online customer service will turn brand ambassadors into life long brand loyalists.